It’s currently mid-January in Northern Michigan, and last week, we had green grass with temperatures in the 50s. (Fahrenheit… we weren’t cooking eggs on the sidewalk or anything) Then this week, we got several feet of snow. And the brakes on my truck failed. And I’m housesitting for my daughter. So it’s been a week of almost zero productivity at work.
Here’s the rub: Those are excuses, and fairly wishy-washy excuses at that. I could have done more work, and actually being stuck at home even meant I should have had an easier time working. But I didn’t. For whatever reason.
Common wisdom dictates that we can’t change the past, so we just need to focus on the future. But it’s one of those adages which is easy to say and quite a bit more difficult to actually internalize. Because, you see, now I’m behind. The whole point of coming to grips with not being able to change the past is that it’s supposed to free you from the anxiety of what you did or didn’t do, because you can’t change it.
But… like… being in the soup is stressful! In order to meet deadlines (I need to finish my current course by the end of the month), it means I have so much more work to do than my normal amount. Therein lies the stress. And in the past (ok, still, but I’m working on it), I would use that anxiety, shame, and looming deadline to motivate my ADHD brain into action. The problem is, it’s a terribly miserable way to live.
Ask me how I know.
(OK, this next part is specifically to the literal Brain of Shawn)
Listen up, wonky brain in my skull: You know how you always love problem solving and emergency situations because it allows you to take advantage of all those weird ADHD quirks? Well you have a doozy of a situation that has been handed to you. You have an absolute butt-ton of work that needs to be completed in a crazy-small amount of time.
BUT IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT
Actually? It is your fault, but it doesn’t matter if it is your fault or not, the blame doesn’t change anything about what needs to be done. Except that if you stop hating yourself, feeling shame, and avoiding joy because you feel like you don’t deserve it, etc, etc — you will actually be able to use that insane ability to perform in a crisis. You get to save the day, and make a seemingly hopeless situation turn into success for someone else.
You just need to let that someone else not be someone else. It’s OK to save the day for yourself sometimes. You do deserve it. And you are worthy of joy both now and once this crisis is averted. You’re better at everything when you’re light-hearted and joyful.
So please, be nice to my friend Shawn. He’s really hard on himself, and could use the same compassion and understanding you give to everyone else. And if you ever find yourself in a pinch? He’s the kind of guy who you want helping. Even if he doesn’t realize it.
Be kind, everyone. Especially to yourself. If you’ve read this far, it’s unlikely you’re someone who treats others poorly in order to make yourself feel better. But you might treat yourself poorly for… reasons. So I’ll try to be nice to my friend Shawn, and you try to do the same to your friend $YOUR_NAME